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Posted: March 6, 2011 12:00 a.m.

Remembering Audrey Atkinson

By Brittany Thomas /

Vicky Atkinson and Aiden


Audrey Atkinson was the all-American girl. Blonde and bubbly, she could have been anyone's daughter, granddaughter, sister or best friend. But Audrey had a secret. The 19-year-old was being abused by her boyfriend.

Although she did everything right, she was killed the night before she was scheduled to see a judge about making a temporary protection order permanent, by the father of her child, a man who swore he'd love her forever.

One year later, her mother, Vicky Atkinson, still mourns her only child, a daughter she calls her best friend. Her only consolation is that her daughter's son, 19-month-old Aiden, is there to help her cope with the loss, a small reminder of Audrey with her sunny smile and sweet disposition.

"It's hard to believe it was a year," said Vicky. "It's still too fresh and it hurts. But more than anything else I want for her death to not be in vain. If there is anything we can do as her family to be the voices of domestic violence to help other people, we will."

According to Vicky, her daughter's boyfriend, 22-year-old Anthony Michael Barrow, wanted to know her every move and instructed Audrey to call and check in with him all the time.

"Looking back, we can see the signs, but we didn't know she was being abused," said Vicky. "We just thought they had a bad relationship and that they argued a lot... I just hope and pray that no other parent has to hear the words 'your daughter's been murdered,’" she said. "That is just unreal. It’s the most senseless, selfish crime. There is no way anyone in this world should be abused mentally, emotionally or physically for the self esteem of a coward, and that’s all they are — they are cowards."

Audrey and Anthony met when she was 17 and a senior in high school. He had already graduated and they were introduced by a mutual friend. According to Vicky, he was a smooth talker and very respectful. For about two months.

"After that he was very rude and disrespectful to me and if a guy is disrespectful to your mother you better believe you’re going to get it a whole lot worse then she does," warned Vicky.

"But she thought she loved him," she said. "She just went his way and got pregnant right away. Of course, that made him extremely happy.

"Come to find out that's another thing they do," she said. "They love to get you pregnant because then they own you, they feel like. Thank God for him," she said, kissing Aiden's head. "Because without Aiden I would probably sit down and die myself, but he gives me a reason to live every day."

Although the abuse had been going on for a while, Vicky was unaware of it until the day it escalated. Audrey would come over — often several times a week — and tell her mother that she was done with the relationship. But all it took was a phone call, and she went back. The final straw came on Feb. 27, 2010, when after an argument she told Barrow she was moving out. According to police reports he "pushed her to the ground and then kicked her." At one point Barrow reportedly "made several threats telling her he was going to kill her and made their son kiss one of the bullets… Atkinson said he told her he was going to kill her with the bullet [their son] kissed."

"When she told me about that I said ‘tell me you aren't going back this time,’ and she said ‘no mom, I'm not,’" Vicky recalled.

Audrey took out a temporary protection order against Barrow and filed police reports when he contacted her.

"She was supposed to go to court Monday and he killed her Sunday night," said Vicky, shaking her head sadly.

The first call came in to 911 dispatchers around 10:20 p.m. March 7, 2010, from a young woman complaining of harassing phone calls. Before deputies from the Newton County Sheriff’s Office could reach her, another call came in of a person shot.

When deputies arrived at the Liberty Gas Station off Crowell Road at the intersection of Almon Road roughly 10 minutes later, Audrey was dead; her body riddled with bullets and her killer nowhere to be seen.

It took deputies approximately seven hours to identify Barrow as the one responsible. He had barricaded himself in a home the couple once shared with Aiden. Following a stand-off that lasted more than four hours Covington/Newton County SWAT Team members forced their way into the home just as they heard a shot. Inside they found Barrow suffering from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital where he later died.

"He was such a coward he couldn’t face the consequences of his actions," said Vicky of Barrow. "So he shot himself and killed himself as well. Which I am thankful for cause I won't ever have to see his face again.

"It took a good month for me to stop picking up the phone to call her," said Vicky, tearing up. "It's just a hole in my heart that will never heal. There's not a minute in the day that goes by that I don't think about her and miss her. I miss all the dreams I had for her," she said. "I miss the dream of being able to be the grandma who is able to spoil her grandson. Instead I'm the mommy and the daddy."

Although Audrey isn't there any longer, her memory is alive in Vicky's home. There are pictures of Audrey all around, and Aiden can identify his mommy in them.

"I tell him how much his mommy loves him every day," said Vicky. "I will always tell him what a loving, wonderful woman she was and how she loved him so much... When the day comes that I have to tell him what happened to his mommy — that's going to be the hardest day, I don't know how I'm going to do that... But I tell him how strong she was and how very, very brave she was for taking the steps to get out because she was determined to make a good life for her and Aiden."

Vicky is also determined. Determined to make sure that no other young woman has to lose her life the way her daughter did. She cautions them to look for the flags of potential abuse and to run when they see them.

"A relationship for someone that loves you is someone that wants to lift you up, somebody that cares about you and wants nothing but goodness for you. He doesn't want to smother you and he doesn't want all of your time or to rule your life. Watch for those flags, because they are always there," cautioned Vicky.

"I want her story to continue," said Vicky. "She did everything she could right and by the law and she should still be here today enjoying him and loving him. I want people to hear her story and do all they can to help get the person they love out safely. I believe God used Audrey’s death as a way to save other people from domestic violence."

As for Audrey Atkinson, she will never really die. Her memory is alive in her mother and son, in friends and family, and Vicky hopes, in her story.


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